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Two Indonesian Politicians Face Probe Over Trump Event Attendance

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, introduces Setya Novanto, speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia, during after a news conference at Trump Tower in New York, Sept. 3, 2015.

Two leaders of Indonesia's parliament are facing an ethics investigation for attending a campaign event with U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Syarifuddin Suding, who heads parliament's Honorary Council, said Thursday that the type of sanctions that could be imposed on House Speaker Setya Novanto and parliament Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon would depend on the results of the investigation.

"If categorized as a misdemeanor, the concerned individual would be given a written warning," he said. "Second, if it is categorized as a moderate violation, the individual could be stripped of other functionary positions in parliament, including its leadership. And if considered as a serious violation, the penalty is a three-month suspension and a recommendation to be permanently dismissed [from parliament]."

He added that the inquiry was also looking at the alleged misappropriation of funds, because families and staffers of some of the parliament members were included as part of the delegation for the trip to the U.S.

Adian Napitupulu, a member of President Joko Widodo's political party, said the two legislators overstepped their roles.

"They are not important enough to represent the country in making decisions for other countries by saying that they would do something for America," he said. "That is not in their capacity, but the president’s. To initiate cooperation, development, et cetera, is also not in their capacity."

Fadli Zon has rejected the idea that he violated ethics codes, saying his activities dealt only with Indonesian issues, including investment. Setya Novanto has not yet responded to the allegations against him.

Last week, Setya Novanto made an unexpected appearance at a news conference held by Trump, who led the Indonesian politician to the microphone. The U.S. politician asked him, “Do they like me in Indonesia?” to which Setya responded positively.

The scene has created a firestorm of criticism in Indonesia, where many commentators have accused the parliament speaker of creating the impression that Indonesia openly favors one U.S. presidential candidate.

Both Indonesian legislators were in Washington on Thursday for a meeting with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.